The Local Voice

The View From The Balcony: “Mississippi Goes to Massachusetts: The Importance of Place”

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The following is an account of three Mississippi young women in Boston for a wedding, conversing stall-to-stall in a hotel bathroom while the post-wedding party is taking place just outside the bathroom door. (As recounted to me by Amadaes, my trusted troubadour, visionary, observer, witness, writer, angel, prophet, luminary, and dearest of friends. She was there.)

Stall #1: “I think you should get that handbag.”

Stall #2: “I would not get that handbag.”

Stall #3: “I think that’s a personal decision. You should not tell somebody what kind of handbag…”

Stall #4: “I think I should have it. I just need some money for it. I need to find a man.”

Stall #1: “You don’t need a man.”

Stall #4: “That’s right. I don’t need a man. I just need some money to buy some stuff with.”

Stall #3: “Let’s get out and go to the lobby where it smells so fresh!”

All Stalls: “Yeah. Let’s go.”

Allow me to elucidate upon the salient points of the heretofore detailed conversation.

“I think you should get that handbag.”

(I have a right to give you my unsolicited opinion about your wardrobe and I am going to exercise my Constitutional right to free speech by doing just that.)

“I would not get that handbag.”

(I have reasons for which I think getting that handbag would be a dumbass thing to do.)

“I think that’s a personal decision. You should not tell somebody what kind of handbag…”

(I respect your unalienable right to choose for yourself. It’s your outfit. You should be free to decide which bag you want, or if you even want one at all.)

“I think I should have it. I just need some money for it. I need to find a man.”

(I believe I am entitled to buy that bag if I want it. It’s a free country¾allegedly¾so I am at liberty to choose. All I need is the money to pay for it. And while I’m at it, I also need a man.)

“You don’t need a man.”

(Stand on your own two feet. You got what it takes. To get a man would be a big mistake.)

“That’s right. I don’t need a man. I just need some money to buy some stuff with.”

(Great observation! To hell with men! But I still need money to be self-sufficient and exercise my right to buy any bag I choose.)

“Let’s get out and go to the lobby where it smells so fresh!”

(The air in here has become heavy with philosophical intensity and debate over our personal rights and privacy. Let’s go somewhere where there’s not so much inelasticity in the air and the mood is light and gay.)

Location, location, location…

Bathroom stalls provide a certain amount of privacy but are not completely closed off. They are open at both the top and the bottom, yet have walls for protection and privacy, with a door that is locked and unlocked from the inside. Within the privacy of the bathroom stall with its physical boundaries, we can discuss, debate, disagree, and still leave in harmony.

In the context of a group sitting, those inside a bathroom stall can speak or remain silent. Because business is being done individually and corporately, and because no one is face-to-face with each other, certain things can be more freely said within the confines of the Chamber of Stalls, where one of the most common of common denominators for all creatures is undeniably present. North, South, East, and West, the ground is level in the Chamber of Stalls. The unwritten yet universally understood code of “What’s said in the stalls stays in the stalls” prevails.

What’s the takeaway? First, there may be more individual freedom in the Chamber of Stalls than anywhere else in the good ol’ USA. Second, women don’t need men (Did they ever really need men?). Third, a woman can pick out her own bag without help from anyone. Fourth and perhaps most important…

We are all one inside the Chamber of Stalls. Who knew?

…and that’s the view from The Balcony.

Randy Weeks is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Certified Shamanic Life Coach, an ordained minister, a singer-songwriter, and an actor. He knows quite well the difference between being wanted and being needed. He may be reached at randallsweeks@gmail.com

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